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They only listen when I yell! What NOT to say...


We're not talking about the obvious things here, but the innocuous ones.  The well-intentioned instincts or reactions that roll off your tongue when you're desperate for cooperation.

Whether you're too kind, or too firm... after days and months of pushback, resistance, power struggles, or stand-offs... it's understandable you start to believe your child only listens when you yell.

I invite you to question this belief by sharing insight into what DOES work instead.


  • Specific phrases that are ineffective for cultivating cooperation
  • Your role as CEO of your family "organization"
  • The choice you have to make going forward


  • How it feels if you reverse roles!

IG: @parent_wholeheartedly


GAME CHANGER: A brand-new FREE LIVE Training
Tuesday, April 25th - 10 AM Pacific / 12 PM Central / 1 PM Eastern

Learn + Master THE tool that UNLOCKS Cooperation with Strong-willed kids
This FREE Training will cover:

  • How to use the tool
  • Why it works + what to do it/when it doesn't




Danielle Bettmann 0:05
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean? Have too much anxiety... not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week, we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, her failures, and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here.

Hey, it's Danielle. Today we are going to be talking about what NOT to say to your strong-willed child. Because communication is key. It is one of the pillars of my program. It is huge. It is the main delivery system of all of your parenting, we need to know what to say and what not to say because the outcomes and the results of our conversations with our kids determine everything about their behavior, and even our relationship and the culture of our home and all of it. It is huge. And it is completely underrated when it comes to our parenting toolkits because we are not thinking about it that much. Honestly, we are just going with what is our instinct, what is the first thing out of our mouth in the reaction based on usually the way that our parents parented us. And a lot of times it doesn't work because it's not super intentional. And for strong-willed kids, they need us to be so good at communicating with them so that they feel heard and understood, and that they feel like there's an opportunity for them to have engagement and a solution and be a part of the conversation. And so often we just missed the mark. And that's completely understandable. Because no one has taught us this. How are you possibly supposed to know? How are you supposed to know?

So today, we're gonna dive into what not to say and why it just feels so hard. And we feel like it is their behavior when really maybe it's us like, are they not listening? Or am I not communicating well enough? We're gonna dive into that today. And so if you didn't hear at the onset of this episode, I am hosting a free live training called Game Changer, the masterclass Tuesday, April 25. Write that on your calendar or register now it's going to be so epic, I emailed my list on Saturday. And I told them, I might not have any clients after this because everyone's lives are going to be cupcakes and rainbows after they learn this tool. So if you even have an inkling that you have a strong-willed child, and you have any moments where you are not able to get them to cooperate, you need this tool, you need this insight, I promise you, you will not go back and you will use it an unlimited amount of time between now and life, I guess the entire time you know this child so and even with other relationships. So anyway, with that, let's dive in what are some of the things that you should not say to your strong-willed Child?

I know that there is one we all know, which is telling them they might get to do something? Right? We'll see. Maybe there is no way that they usually goes well, because they have to have a tangible answer. And that just invites them to keep finding the answer and escalating from there. One we're all guilty of calling out requests from another room or we're trying to multitask and get a million other things done. No one responds well, I don't respond when my husband yells from another room for me to do something. But that's you know, part of life. So that happens a lot. Seeing things that are very on the passive side to kind on the spectrum because remember, we're trying to go kind and firm to kind is Let's put on our shoes. Okay. Making it a question. We don't hit. We don't do that. They don't say ascribe to that. Saying, I wish you would, or it makes me sad when you... that doesn't change their mind that has that sounds like a huge problem. Or trying to really pull the guilt factor of you're the oldest, you have to be the leader, be a good brother or sister. That's just a guilt trip. doesn't invite cooperation doesn't teach. And saying, I'll give you blank. If you blank. Right, then that's just basically them reading it as Oh, when I do what you want, then you'll be nice to me, or Yeah, then I'll get what I want. So it has all that feels very transactional, very inauthentic. And it really just doesn't, it completely misses the mark for teaching them what to do. And allowing understanding in the conversation of even what the boundary is the limit is a problem is none of that is addressed. Then there's the other side of the spectrum of what's too firm saying, Turn that off relieving abruptly, when there's been no heads up or no understanding of the agenda for the day. saying stop that don't do that without a replacement, and thought a substitute just that continues to get their attention focused on the thing what not to do. Counting. Okay, you have to do this 123? All you have to say about that strategy is I have a lot of that I could say about that strategy. But just imagine someone else doing it to you. Imagine your partner think no, you get off your phone, it's time to cook dinner one, two, you would punch them in the face because it's so demeaning. Just know, if you if you do that, again, you're going in timeout? Or if you do that, again, blink, you are whatever or I'm you know, that, again, is a very like, if then it doesn't, what are they supposed to do instead? Right? doesn't answer that. So they don't, it doesn't change their mind, they're still fixated on the justification of why they're doing what they're doing.

So all of those things are just a few examples, a short list of what not to do. But what do we do instead? If we are communicating with any number of those scripts in your day-to-day, which we all are at some point in time, but if that is kind of the prevalent toolkit that you were given, when you started off parenting, then you're gonna find yourself in these battles of will or the standoffs with your child, where you've asked them to do something, and they either say no, or they ignore you, or it escalates. And then that leads you to believe my child only listens when I yell. They make me crazy, and then they look at me like I'm crazy. Or my request to them only register at that volume is the only thing that gets their attention, which is understandable. I saw tik tok yesterday where a consensus of parents were commiserating around the fact that their kid only listens when they yell. The mom was repeating in this video, that bowl is hot, that bowl is hot, and she's trying to hand it to her child. And they're grabbing it from the bottom and she keeps yelling the bowl is hot. And you know, she's like yelling, escalates, very quickly to yelling. And then the child finally realizes that she means oh, I need to grab it on the sides. Like they're just looking with like this blank deer in the headlights face. Like, I don't know what you want me to do. I know I'm not doing it right. But I am grabbing the ball, like what I've heard has to do with this information. And it's so obvious when you can see it from like a total outsider, a nonbiased view looking in on someone else's family. But when it's you and your child and you're so up close to it. It feels very true sometimes that they only listen. When I escalate though they make me escalate. And then they finally listen.

When you say things over and over like a broken record and you feel ignored, and you feel taken advantage of or defied and you're only trying to protect them or teach them or instill values in them. You're met with ambivalence, pushback or resistance, or complete defiance. Of course, you feel defeated. Because you're trying so hard. You're putting so much energy into this. You're trying and trying and trying and you've tried for so long, and sometimes you just give up completely and start to let things go and give up on getting their cooperation. All are there to help you reduce your expectations for them because you can't get them to do what you need them to do. If you are finding yourself subscribing to that fact, if your manager complained to their boss at work, and they're talking about you, and some sort of review without you there, and they told their boss, yeah, you know, the only way that they listen is when I yell at them. What thoughts would come up for you? If you heard that spoken about you? Would you feel like they would be justified in saying that? Or would you feel like maybe you're misunderstood? Or maybe they haven't been clear in their expectations of you? Or they're not answering your questions or giving you enough time to get things done? If they were talking about you behind your back like that, would that strain your relationship with them? Would that make you want to work harder, or just get by for this person? And taking you one step further? Should your manager take away your coffeemaker at work? So you learn your lesson? Or does that kind of not make sense at all based on the problem that's probably at hand, or the deeper root of the issue? Or one other way to look at it? If your child's preschool teacher said, Yep, your child only listens to me when I yell? Huh? How much of your expectation is that it's on them as the teacher to figure out how to engage them and to communicate with them and to help them learn and meet them where they're at? Or, and you know, how or how much is that of that is on your child? Both parties are responsible there. But how would you feel if another caregiver of your child really just kind of resigned to that fact, you feel like there's more of a story, right?

So I always encourage my clients to think of their family as an organization, and that they're the CEO. It's their job as the leader of their family, to set everyone up for success. Good leadership is asking questions, finding out what's missing, and filling in the gaps, so that your quote-unquote, employees have everything they need to be able to do their job well, that they have enough time to complete it, that there's a relationship of trust and respect to stand done. So that you can mentor their growth within your company. The highest form of leadership is the development of people. So, therefore, parenting is the highest form of leadership. You're teaching and guiding and mentoring tiny humans brand new to this earth with a barely formed prefrontal cortex. And it's your job to communicate clearly, in a way that gets through to them, and unlocks their ears, opens their ears. It's not up to them to read between the lines or read your mind. So it's very possible to just make simple tweaks and the way that you say things and get way better results and outcomes and behaviors from your kids. If it's possible for a teacher to do that. And it's possible for your manager to do that with you. It's possible for you with outcomes that pay off so much down the road, years and years and years to come. Because your parent-child relationship is based on this. And that the parent-child relationship is 100 times more influential than a teacher's or a boss's.

And this is not just asking nicely, staying calm or being Mary Poppins, or always making it a game or a race or a competition. It's not letting them do whatever they want, lowering your expectations, and just avoiding the conflict by walking on eggshells. It's simple, powerful form of emotionally intelligent communication style that you can turn around and translate and use in your marriage and at the workplace, and in all your relationships. It's just no one's taught us that by now. And you get to you can choose to grow in this way. That's really easy to learn when you have lots of support and examples and tweaking and troubleshooting. You get to control what tools are in your toolkit. As a parent, you're not just resigned to whatever was given to you by how you were parented. That's maybe all you have now. And that's okay. That's how this works. But let's grow together. If you're taking parenting seriously, and you really want to level up your toolkit as a parent, and you feel like this is possible. You may not be able to control some of your kid's big emotions and some of their meltdowns and things that they're struggling with, but you can control yourself. And you can change how you ask and you can de-escalate things, then you have to be at my free training next week. And you'll grow so much from all of the tangible tools that I teach through that communication pillar in my program, Wholeheartedly CALM, it is a huge component of it. And something that just doesn't come naturally, it feels very unnatural, actually, to be able to not only, so shut down the initial thing reaction that comes out of your mouth all the time, and instead override that and learn something new. But it's possible, and it's so worth it. When it comes down to it, are you willing to set up a relationship where your child sees you as a hypocrite? Because you tell them to do what you don't do yourself? Or you expect more out of them than you're willing to expect out of yourself? Are you willing to send your child into a world without all the critical skills they need? Because they can't learn it from you. Because there's constant struggles and breakdowns in your communication? Or would you rather lead from an attractive form of leadership that admits, Hey, I am working on myself to I am learning and growing along side you, I am becoming more equipped with better, more effective ways to communicate with you that are respectful, mutually respectful, that allow for critical thinking, and problem-solving and negotiation, validation and empathy, front loading, so we are both on the same page.

If that sounds way more like where you want to be as a parent, as maybe ambiguous or unattainable as that sounds, if that's you, then simply reach out because this is the place to learn it. You have to be as effective of a communicator, as a hostage negotiator to be able to get the outcomes you're looking for in your child. If you could just pull out of your pocket something completely random that your parents said to you, and know that you're confidently on track to the parent-child relationship you want to have 20 years from now and your child having the toolkit that they need to communicate effectively with their friends, or stand up for themselves, or, you know, assert their concerns to their teacher and all the things that they need to do... Your child will never be able to do that without you leveling up your communication style yourself. But I haven't duels friend, and it's just like a handful of things that change the game, like I said, with this training. And once you know that they're possible. Oh man, the possibilities, the potential, the change, you can see in your hope for the future and just being able to have less meltdowns day to day. But ah, it's so good. It's so good. So I hope to see you at Game Changer: the masterclass next week, Tuesday, the 25th. And if you're listening to this afterward, and you missed it, be sure that you connect with me on Instagram, I might save the replay and have that available. I'm not sure but you can reach out over DM I am @parent_wholeheartedly, and you can ask about it then. But if you know, this is a big piece that you want to learn in the upcoming months, maybe even years of your child's life. Because you know that you have to just carve out the time and commit to it. Then we're a good match friend and send me a DM that says CALM or go to my website You can schedule a free consultation where we can talk about what you've tried, where you're at, what your goals are, and see if we're a good match to work together.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know that they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes I can't wait to meet you thanks for coming on this journey with me I believe in you and I'm cheering you on.




Tuesday, Sept 27th at 1:00 PM CENTRAL

Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!